WEST Ham have been pitted against Andorran minnows FC Lusitans in the first qualifying round of the Europa League. New manager Slaven Bilic’s first competitive game is set to take place at Upton Park on 2 July, with the second leg a week later in Andorra. Here are five key things to know about FC Lusitans.
Lusitans, also known as FC Lusitanos, were only founded in 1999. The team compete in the Andorran Primera Divisio, which only consists of eight teams, and finished second last season, having won the title in 2012.
Lusitans have twice appeared in the Europa League and failed to progress beyond the first qualifying round on both occasions. In 2010-11 they lost heavily to Rabotnicki, shipping five away and six at home. In 2011-12 they bowed out to Croatian side Varazdin after losing 6-1 away on aggregate.
While West Ham’s highest paid player Andy Carroll is thought to earn close to £100,000 a week, Andorran top-flight players have to make do on far less. The league is semi-professional, so all of the clubs and most of the players are part-time.
Lusitans, at 411 out of 926, are more than 250 places below West Ham in Uefa’s 2015 coefficient list. The Hammers, at 126, were seeded for the draw despite only qualifying for the competition via fair play rules.
GROUNDS FOR PESSIMISM
They play their home games at Estadi Comunal, whcih is based in the capital, Andorra la Vella, and has a capacity of just 899 – a fraction of West Ham’s 35,000-seater Upton Park home. All club stadiums in the principality are owned by the Andorran federation rather than the individual clubs.